Top 5 worries keeping IT pros up at night

What keeps you up at night? IT pros share what weighs most heavily on their minds

Worries about data security, technology upgrades, and staffing are the most common concerns keeping IT pros awake at night, according to new research from Robert Half Technology.

Among 1,400 U.S. CIOs polled, 24 percent cited data security as the primary worry keeping them up at night, and 13 percent said hardware and/or operating systems upgrades. Other worrisome issues include heavy workloads (cited by 10 percent), sufficient budgets to fund IT projects (10 percent), and keeping pace with technology innovation (9 percent).

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On the personnel front, 63 percent of CIOs said understaffing either significantly or somewhat affects their companies' ability to implement new technologies. Talent poaching, too, is a concern highlighted in the staffing firm's CIO Insomnia Project. Roughly one-third of CIOs polled (34 percent) are at least somewhat concerned about losing top IT performers to other job opportunities in the next year.

So how do IT execs tackle the retention issue? A good environment for IT employees is one that is challenging and allows staff to learn, said Craig Boivin, CTO at Highland Bank, in a video interview for Robert Half Technology. "If you can provide an environment where they're getting trained, they're learning new technologies, and they feel like they're growing, they're more apt to stay," Boivin said.

"I'm really big on challenges," said Michael Parsons, president of managed IT service provider Presilient. "Finding a way to take my best people and give them new challenges so they can feel they've impacted the business. The good IT people want to impact the business... and they want to find new technologies that allow us to solve problems. The status quo doesn't cut it for these key individuals."

As the economy improves, 37 percent of CIOs plan to implement hardware or software upgrades, according to Robert Half's data. Other tech projects that IT execs put on hold in 2009 and expect to revive post-recession include virtualization (16 percent), website design (16 percent), collaboration tools (12 percent), cloud computing (11 percent), and company-branded social media sites (9 percent).

Funding remains an issue for some IT leaders, however. When asked about the likelihood of corporate investment in IT projects, just 15 percent said they are very confident. The remainder responded: confident (28 percent), somewhat confident (29 percent), little confidence (12 percent), no confidence (15 percent) and don't know (1 percent).

"CIOs are under escalating pressure to innovate while at the same time protecting their companies against rising security threats and managing an increasing amount of information," said John Reed, executive director of Robert Half Technology, in a statement. "These challenges make it especially important for technology executives to stay connected with their peers and share best practices."

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This story, "Top 5 worries keeping IT pros up at night" was originally published by Network World.